I haven’t really reflected much upon Henry David Thoreau since the beginning of the semester. But recently flipping through my American Earth book, it’s difficult to miss the selections he contributed. Unlike some of my cohorts, I didn’t hate Thoreau, I didn’t love him, but he wasn’t the worst. Writing style aside, I agreed with Thoreau on a lot of important points. One example of this is the idea that learning through experience is much more valuable than reading a book about a subject. You could read an entire book on living in the woods, but if you’d never actually been there, you might find that you’d be completely lost. On that note, Thoreau also brings up the important point that, because of our culture and society, humans are losing our innate ability to do things, make things, and survive. When I try to conjure up some kind of skill-set for myself, all I can come up with is knitting, riding a bike and making grilled cheese sandwiches. A hundred years ago what would a girl in my place be doing? Thinking about my lack of survival ability makes me feel like an individually packaged little bag of Doritos: over-processed and cheesy with an absence of nutritional value.
I hate what Thoreau says about our society because it’s so true. “If rail roads are not built, how shall we get to heaven in season,” he notes. Why does our society stress “progression” so much? We certainly can’t truly take in what the natural world has to offer when it appears that all people care about is the newest Apple product. However crazy Thoreau may have been, his thoughts and ideas are something we should all take note of. Acknowledging his warnings would remind our society that maybe we are born into this earth with everything we’ll ever need. And maybe that doesn’t include cell phones and laptops.